February 12, 2014, Washington, D.C. – 104 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a bipartisan letter to the White House today, expressing support for diplomatic efforts to curtail Iran’s nuclear program and warning against the passage of new Iran-related legislation at this time. Negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran are scheduled to resume next week.
The letter was spearheaded by a coalition of over a dozen members of Congress, including Congressmen Lloyd Doggett (D-TX/35th), Keith Ellison (D-MN/5th), Barbara Lee (D-CA/13th), David Price (D-NC/4th), and John Yarmuth (D-KY/3rd). It was signed by 100 Democrats and 4 Republicans.
The letter commends the president for recent developments in Geneva regarding the Joint Plan of Action agreed to by Iran and the P5+1 last November. While acknowledging that there is no guarantee of success, the letter argues that “Congress must give diplomacy a chance.”
“A bill or resolution that risks fracturing our international coalition or, worse yet, undermining our credibility in future negotiations and jeopardizing hard-won progress toward a verifiable final agreement, must be avoided,” states the letter. “We must not imperil the possibility of a diplomatic success before we even have a chance to pursue it.”
The letter comes as an Iran sanctions bill introduced last December is losing traction in the Senate.
The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013 (S.1881), which sets to expand and tighten existing sanctions against Iran as well as impose certain restrictions for a final comprehensive agreement, has currently gained 59 co-sponsors in the Senate. The administration has asked members of Congress to temporarily hold off on the implementation of new legislation while talks with Iran are in progress and has threatened to veto the bill if passed now. The bill would need a total of 67 votes, as well as two-thirds support in the House of Representatives, to thwart a Presidential veto.
PAAIA has expressed concern that passing new legislation at this time could potentially derail ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, impeding U.S. diplomacy and weakening our ability to maintain the international coalition on sanctions against Iran.
A 2013 National Public Opinion Survey of Iranian Americans by PAAIA shows that a solid majority of Iranian Americans support President Obama’s handling of Iran’s nuclear program and more than two-thirds would support the removal of sanctions if the Iranian regime reached an agreement with the U.S. and the international community concerning its nuclear program.
Click here to read the full letter to President Obama and its signees.